Surfers championing mental health awareness 'blown away' by generosity

Charlotte Norton and Evie Smith-Woolley take charge of the new equipment

From left: Alex Walton, Sidmouth Herald editor, Evie Smith-Woolley, Andy Warner and Sam Rogers of FatStick SUP and Charlotte Norton - Credit: Stuart Bertie

A Sidmouth surfing community which promotes the awareness of mental health are celebrating having taken charge of a large donation of paddleboards, paddles and wetsuits from supporters of its cause.
 
OneWave Sidmouth, which started in 2019, received three stand-up-paddle boards along with five paddles and six wetsuits from Andy Warner and Sam Rogers of FatStick SUP based in Dorset. FatStick has also committed to continue to help and supply OneWave with boards regularly. Andy Joyce from SurfSteps also donated a large quantity of suits.
 
Organisers of OneWave, Evie Smith-Woolley and Charlotte Norton, said: “We have been blown away with everyone’s generosity and donations of kit. The equipment will be used to enable people to experience paddle boarding and let those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to give it a go. 
“They will be able to learn a new skill, build confidence of being in the sea and connect with a community of like-minded people. 
“We found that the combination of being in the sea, having fun and feeling safe allows us to feel more free to talk.
"The wetsuits allow us to stay in the water that little bit longer and encourage people to come along who may not have if they didn’t have one.”
 

Trying out the new paddle boards and wet suits

Trying out the new paddle boards and wet suits - Credit: Stuart Bertie

The surf enthusiasts also had another reason to celebrate having taken part in the first ‘Fluro Friday’ session on April 16 since lockdown restrictions were recently eased. 
Those attending Fluro Fridays are encouraged to wear bright clothing to help make an invisible issue visible and to open up conversations about mental health. 
Charlotte said: “Our attendees absolutely loved being on the water, for many it was the first time on a paddle board.
Everyone was glad they came and one attendee said: ‘this evening was the perfect example of how being in the sea can be beneficial for mental wellbeing’. 
“People said they felt welcome, supported and are really looking forward to the next one.”
 
OneWave Sidmouth is looking to expand its future sessions, giving people the opportunity to try other activities, inviting guest speakers and involving the wider community. To help achieve their vision, Evie and Charlotte are hoping to secure more equipment such as buoyancy aids, kayaks and surfboards. If you wish to support the group you can go to their JustGiving page at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/onewavesidmouth
 
The next Fluro Friday meet up will be on April 30, running fortnightly at 6.30pm from Port Royal beach.

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